DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Knowing DVD Review

Knowing (2009) movie poster Knowing

Theatrical Release: March 20, 2009 / Running Time: 121 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Alex Proyas / Writers: Ryne Douglas Pearson (story & screenplay); Juliet Snowden, Stiles White (screenplay)

Cast: Nicolas Cage (John Koestler), Rose Byrne (Diana Wayland), Chandler Canterbury (Caleb Koestler), Ben Mendelsohn (Phil Beckman), Lara Robinson (Abby Wayland, Lucinda Embry), D.G. Maloney (The Stranger), Nadia Townsend (Grace Koestler), Alan Hopgood (Reverend Koestler), Adrienne Pickering (Allison Koestler), Joshua Long (Younger Caleb), Danielle Carter (Miss Taylor, 1959), Alethea McGrath (Miss Taylor, 2009)

Buy Knowing from Amazon.com: DVD • Blu-ray

G.I. Joe taught us that knowing is half the battle. Nicolas Cage's character kind of puts that statistic to the test in Knowing.

Cage plays John Koestler, a widowed M.I.T. astrophysics professor who's been doing some heavy drinking lately. When a local elementary school unearths a time capsule from 1959,
Koestler's son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) becomes the owner of a 50-year-old student creation. Most people would assume that the sheet full of handwritten numbers was nothing more than a sheet full of handwritten numbers. But John manages to swiftly figure out that contained within those numbers are details pertaining to major global disasters: dates, casualties, and latitude/longitude location points.

A couple of close encounters confirms what John suspects, and he prepares to devise a way to prevent the impending, unknown tragedies predicted. Since the page's author has passed away, Caleb and he find the next of kin: fellow single parent Diana (Rose Byrne) and her school-aged daughter (Lara Robinson). While bracing themselves for the anticipated catastrophe approaching, the two understandably troubled families put their heads together to form a plan.

Holding both the whole world and the sun in his hands, Nicolas Cage makes one wonder if anyone would skip M.I.T. astrophysics classes with him teaching them. The combination of hard liquor and circled numbers proves to be a difficult one for widowed M.I.T. professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage).

Ambitious for an adventure thriller, Knowing tackles big mysteries regarding determinism and randomness. While that might sound like a recipe for either needless headiness or boring psychobabble, this movie indulges in neither thing. Instead, director Alex Proyas (I, Robot, Dark City) crafts an exciting contemporary tale with terror reminiscent of Hitchcock and humanity comparable to Spielberg. With regards to the former trait, the film takes full advantage of the reality that foresight-based suspense is essentially unparalleled.

The cast aids this journey. In recent years, Oscar winner Cage has been charged with giving the same type of performance in the same type of movie. This turn won't throw that theory out the window, but the actor does bring depth and some differences to the part. Upstart young Canterbury is occasionally challenged by the material, but he delivers the goods when most needed. Australia's Byrne displays her talents, showing she deserves more high-profile leading roles. In a smaller role, Ben Mendelsohn does nice enough to stand out as Cage's colleague.

Knowing is not without some issues. Disbelief gets tested in a few coincidental discoveries at the core. Otherworldly forces feature into the storyline and though they contribute to the long list of intrigue, they do feel out of place at times. There are also a few false notes to characters in the unfolding.

Nicolas Cage's neck vein flares as he tries to explain the severity of his situation to fellow single parent Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne). Nicolas Cage makes a cautionary cellular phone call to his pep-pep preacher in the golden glow of a warm October magic hour.

The strengths definitely outnumber the weaknesses, though. The strong, compelling concept by Mercury Rising author Ryne Douglas Pearson is intelligently treated. There's a subtle but welcome presence of Christian and American values,
which most mainstream cinema wouldn't touch, at least not so tastefully. (Ironically, the movie was shot in Proyas' homeland Australia primarily with local actors.) And calculations are correct; some visual effects are iffy (thank the "modest" $50 production budget), but appropriately showy sequences don't suffer and the best stuff is saved for the powerful climax.

Beating two other wide debuts with a #1-ranking $24.6 million opening weekend, Knowing gave Summit Entertainment its second hit. The first, Twilight, was big enough to ensure the youngest major American movie studio will get to adapt that hot book franchise in its entirety. Knowing's earnings (to date, just under $80 million domestically and nearly as much overseas) demonstrate that Summit can achieve success beyond its now-cornerstone teen vampire phenomenon. The grosses also testify to Nicolas Cage's draw as leading man, something repeatedly questioned outside of Ghost Rider and his Jerry Bruckheimer-produced hits.

Hoping the solid box office run leads to an even bigger audience on home video, Summit brings Knowing to DVD and Blu-ray on July 7th.

Buy Knowing on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: July 7, 2009
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $26.99
Black Keepcase in Embossed, Holographic Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on Blu-ray Disc
Blockbuster Total Access - 2 Week Free Trial


No concerns arise from the impressive 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The somewhat muted color palette is satisfactorily rendered and Summit appears to be as competent as any studio at bringing a new movie to DVD with an exquisitely clean, sharp picture. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack garners more notice. From whispering heard in the film's opening moments, the mix does a fantastic job of conveying atmosphere and action with the use of all channels. Though the wide dynamic range may require late night apartment-dwelling viewers to keep their remote nearby, the potency and immediacy of the track more than make up for it.

"Knowing All: The Making of a Futuristic Thriller" takes us to the site of a controlled fake plane crash. As if the translucent globe wasn't enough to establish Werner Dappen as an authority, bam -- there are his credentials! The USC professor is one of several people discussing "Visions of the Apocalypse." The fateful time capsule is seen alongside a burning Earth as part of the Knowing DVD's main menu montage.


A pretty average slate of extras kicks off with an audio commentary by director Alex Proyas. Proyas is basically interviewed by an unidentified man, who ordinarily might have been edited out. As is, this stands as something refreshingly different to the normal solo commentary struggle. The full, screen-specific discussion covers a lot of ground, from characters and meaning to shooting on digital video and using CGI.
Proyas is able to wax eloquent on the rich ideas he presents in the film. His thoughts on decisions made and interpretations viewers will make add value. That makes this easier to recommend than most tracks, but for many the necessary time investment may not be equaled by the knowledge gained.

The first of two featurettes, "Knowing All: The Making of a Futuristic Thriller" (12:30) deals with the project's origins, the movie's themes, and some of the techniques and effects employed.

Less cheery is "Visions of the Apocalypse" (17:10), a piece that enlists various authorities to discuss civilizations' thoughts and fears about the end of the world. With movie clips interspersed, concepts pertaining to religion, numbers, warfare, and our biological environment are considered. It's more fascinating than your typical DVD bonus.

The disc loads with trailers for Push, Astro Boy, and The Brothers Bloom.

The scored main menu balances a red-tinted montage with an animated rendering of the numbers falling off burning globe image.

Knowing comes packaged in an embossed, faintly holographic cardboard slipcover that's wise enough to vary slightly from the case artwork below. The only insert is a form for you to get a $5 check back for buying both this DVD and the studio's concurrent Push by the end of this year.

New York City would be even more badass with Nic Cage protecting its subway stations. Falling to their knees and holding bunnies, Nicolas Cage and young co-stars Chandler Canterbury and Lara Robinson are shocked by what they see outside in "Knowing."


A creative concept, some striking setpieces, strong acting, and apt direction all add up to Knowing being a fun and captivating time. If you wish, you'll be able to find faults in the narrative and presentation, as most critics did. But even if you're not entirely satisfied by the whole, you must recognize there's more substance here than in most of the film's contemporaries.

Summit's DVD provides great picture, excellent sound, and a worthwhile handful of supplements. It earns a recommendation, even for those with no particular leaning towards action and sci-fi. Give this one a look. You know you want to.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com / Buy on Blu-ray from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
New to DVD: Push • Inkheart • Reno 911!: The Complete Sixth Season Uncensored!
Starring Nicolas Cage: National Treasure • National Treasure: Book of Secrets • Next • Ghost Rider • Con Air (Extended Edition)
Starring Rose Byrne: Sunshine • 28 Weeks Later | Featuring Chandler Canterbury: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
21 • Deja Vu • Early Edition: The First Season • The Last Mimzy • Enemy of the State (Special Edition)
2001: A Space Odyssey • WALL•E • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy • Zodiac (2-Disc Director's Cut) DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Reviewed June 26, 2009.

Text copyright 2009 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2009 Summit Entertainment, Escape Artists Productions, Mystery Clock Cinema, and Summit Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.